NCB On The Trail: Derrick Jones

Five best mid-major classes in 2015 

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
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Conference realignment was supposed to mean the death of mid-majors as perennial mid-major powerhouses such as Xavier, Utah, Butler, Memphis, Temple, Creighton, SMU, and others moved up to high-major conferences.

It hasn’t worked out quite that way though as new programs have emerged as the best of the mid-major elite.

With that in mind, here is a look at the best mid-major recruiting classes to date in the 2015 class:

1. VCU

“Havoc” is synonymous with defensive pressure as VCU’s relentless style of play has become one of the better known brands in college basketball. Offensively though, they’vehad some challenges, especially when unable to create offense from their defense. That won’t be the case for much longer as their 2015 class includes perhaps the best wing scoring tandem the program has had under Shaka Smart. ESPN 100 prospects Tevin Mack (No. 58) and Kenny Williams (No. 79) won’t just bring productivity, they’re two guys who can score from various spots on the floor, including behind the 3-point line. Add in Jordan Murphy, a combo forward who fits the prototype necessary for the Havoc style, and this is the top mid-major class in the country to date (ranked No. 25 in our class rankings).

Recruiting has quieted down a bit since the end of the early signing period and the start of the high school and college seasons, but there are plenty of teams still looking for players. Where will these schools find them?

Available players

The most obvious route is the remaining uncommitted players in the 2015 class. We’ve gone over the top 100 players countless times, and while there aren’t too many of that caliber still on the board, that’s the straight-forward option for teams still in need. The premier programs in the country are gunning for the Jaylen Browns, Diamond Stones and Ivan Rabbs of the world, but lower-tier high-major programs and mid-major programs have to keep their eyes out. They’re looking outside the top 100 and will also be on the prowl for players set to emerge during their senior seasons.

As those borderline high-major prospects continue to wait to commit to a school, though, they see their recruitment rise significantly. And therein lies the danger for schools: The talent pool among seniors dries out, schools still need players -- and desperation kicks in. That’s when you’ll see programs reaching for players, just to fill a void or get a body on the roster. For new coaches taking over programs, it’s a necessary evil; they simply need guys. But in some cases, it’s better to hold onto a scholarship for next year instead of reaching for a guy who won’t cut it at the high-major or mid-major level and will therefore transfer or take up a scholarship for four years.


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Early signing period winners and losers 

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
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Over the past few years, college basketball's early signing period has clearly taken precedence over the spring period. Nearly every committed player signs his letter of intent during the fall period, while several available top-100 prospects usually make their decisions within the seven-day stretch.

This season is a bit different. While the wide majority of top-100 players are signed and sealed to their future school, 11 of the 18 five-star prospects are still on the board. As a result, we're going to have far more drama moving forward than we've had in recent years.

Of course, that doesn't mean the early signing period was without interesting storylines. Five ESPN 100 prospects made their decisions, and several schools had to go back to the drawing board to reassess their 2015 classes.

WINNERS

Kentucky


Well, this was easy. The Wildcats went into the early signing period with one commit and a borderline top-40 class and exited with two five-star pledges and the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. With Charles Matthews (No. 44 in the ESPN 100) already in tow, Kentucky went to work, landing Skal Labissiere (No. 11) and Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13) in a 45-minute span last Thursday. Labissiere has perhaps the most pro potential of any prospect in the country, while Briscoe is the best point guard in the 2015 class. As always, the lesson is to never underestimate John Calipari. A month ago, it wasn't a lock that Kentucky was going to get Labissiere or Briscoe -- let alone both of them, back-to-back, on the same day. Calipari closed with both prospects, though, and now the Wildcats are back in a familiar position atop the recruiting rankings.


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ESPN 100 small forward Derrick Jones (No. 22) committed to UNLV live on ESPNU RecruitingNation's Signing Day Special on Thursday night, choosing the Rebels over Connecticut and Auburn. The four-star prospect is coming off a big summer, leading his We-R1 squad to the championship of the Under Armour Association Finals in Atlanta.


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Five big recruiting questions 

November, 5, 2014
Nov 5
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With the early signing period and the college basketball season around the corner, things are quieting down on the recruiting circuit. With that said, there were several recruiting storylines that developed this offseason. With conference media days taking place around the country, many of these topics came up. Here are five worth keeping an eye on moving forward:


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Last weekend, Kentucky had about 90 NBA scouts on its campus for a practice that was televised on ESPNU -- yet this weekend will feature an even bigger event for the Wildcats.

Friday brings Big Blue Madness to Lexington, where the Kentucky faithful will pack Rupp Arena for their first look at the 2014-15 edition of the Wildcats, the likely preseason No. 1 team in the country. More important, it is also the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for John Calipari and Kentucky. Seven five-star prospects from the classes of 2015 and 2016 are expected on campus this weekend, in addition to four-star commit Charles Matthews.

Calipari and his staff haven’t tried to downplay the event to the prospective recruits, either.

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Every summer prospects go out on the circuit to win, compete and improve with hopes to gain some exposure along the way. When evaluating, there are certain prospects who consistently show up and catch your eye with strong performances at a high level, affecting the outcome of a game.

Here are five players from the 2015 class whose stocks are on the rise in the all-important summer period.

1. Jaylen Brown

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Under Armour Finals: Day 4 recap 

July, 20, 2014
Jul 20
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SUWANEE, Ga. -- It was championship Saturday along with continued heated competition in the consolation brackets on the last day of the Under Armour Association Finals. The Grind Indy Hoosiers were the 15U champions, New Heights (N.Y.) was 16U champion and We R1 (Del.) was 17U champions.

Overall, there were many excellent individual performances on Saturday. Here are a few that stood out on Day 4.


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PHILADELPHIA -- The Reebok Classic Breakout took a backseat to no other event over the past 48 hours as the staff did a tremendous job of putting together a deep and talented roster, which in turn attracted over 200 Division I college coaches including dozens of high-profile head coaches. Here's a look at which players were most impressive throughout the first two days of action:

Best pure point guard: Derryck Thornton


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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- There was a major buzz inside the gym of Philadelphia University as the clock struck 5 p.m. and the likes of John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Kevin Ollie, Larry Brown, John Beilein, Bo Ryan, and dozens of other high profile head coaches kicked off the July evaluation period at the Reebok Breakout Camp.

Marquee matchup


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The Class of 2015 is in its early stages of development as new prospects are being recognized weekly and more established prospects are working to keep their reputations intact. May is a time to evaluate and analyze the nation's best. We will update our rankings in June after we get a thorough evaluation and find the emerging talent in this class.

With six months to go before the early signing period here is an early preview of the Class of 2015:


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Pittsburgh Jam Fest recap 

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
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PITTSBURGH -- The Hoop Group’s annual Pittsburgh Jam Fest brought hundreds of talented grassroots programs and college coaches alike to the Steel City for the only evaluation weekend of the spring.

The event also served as the opening of the season for the Under Armour Association, and it was a team making its UAA debut, New Heights, that ended up stealing the show on Sunday, winning championships in both the 16U and 17U divisions.


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Roundtable: Prospects to watch 

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
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Last week we rolled out our updated ESPN 100, ESPN 60 and ESPN 25 player rankings, and while rankings are often the culmination of weeks and months of work and evaluations, it’s a never-ending process. The reality is that there are still a number of prospects our ESPN RecruitingNation staff is anxious to follow in the coming weeks and months. Here’s a look at some of the individual prospects our staff is especially interested in monitoring in the near future.


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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



The Orangemen have done an excellent job at targeting underclassmen. The recently landed ESPN No. 12 Malachi Richardson (Hamilton, N.J./Trenton Catholic Academy) is an outstanding shooter with excellent size and incredible overall polish for a young prospect. Also committed is power forward Tyler Lydon (Pine Plains, N.Y. /New Hampton School).

ESPN No. 19 small forward Derrick Jones (Philadelphia/Archbishop Carroll High School) is a dynamic athlete and finisher who plays at the rim. They are also heavily involved and in the final six schools for Donte DiVincenzo (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum School) He is an AAU teammate of Richardson and they both play for Team Final.

Top 2015 SF Jones talks latest offers 

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Among a star-studded group of prospects from the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016 taking part in the 12th annual Chick-fil-A Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament is junior small forward Derrick Jones (Philadelphia/Archbishop Carroll).

The No. 18 prospect in the class of 2015, the 6-foot-6 Jones is coveted by many of the nation’s top programs.


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